Motorhead go full throttle at HOB

A review of Motorhead at the House of Blues on March 1, 2011

, Managing Editor

The great debate over the course of Motorhead’s career has been how to classify their sound. Is it heavy metal? Is it speed metal? Is it rock? Some might even say that there’s an element of punk rock in their sound. This claim was well defended by the number of fans spotted wearing Ramones t-shirts… or maybe they just needed something black to wear. Regardless, when it comes down to it, there really is no debate. Just ask Lemmy and he’ll tell you, as he does at the start of every show, “We are Motorhead, and we play Rock n’ Roll!”

Motorhead don’t just play rock n’ roll; they play hard, loud, fast, no-frills, no-nonsense rock n’ roll. If one couldn’t tell just from the music alone, it’s easy to see from their live show that the comparisons to rock n’ roll contemporaries like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest don’t make any sense. When it comes to Motorhead it’s not about giant inflatables, pyrotechnics, or motorcycles (see: Rob Halford). In fact, their biggest extravagance was a strobe light featured during show closer “Overkill”.

Still, what Motorhead may lack in showmanship they make up for with shear force. There’s loud, and then there’s Motorhead. The trio packs a tremendous punch, with much of the power deriving from Mikkey Dee’s double-bass assault on the drums. Dee is like a blond version of Animal from the Muppets, with his long locks flying every which way as he bashes his massive drum kit. The one downfall to the band’s roaring instrumentals is that it makes Lemmy’s vocals nearly incomprehensible… although, can anyone really tell what he’s singing anyway?

The band is touring behind their recent release, The World Is Yours, from which several songs made appearances in the setlist. New tunes such as lead single “Get Back In Line” and “I Know How to Die” were well received but for recent numbers, it was actually a song off 2008’s Motorizer that really kicked up the energy level. Although they had just made mention of their new album, they followed the plug with the slightly older “Rock Out”, which had fans doing just that as they blistered through the quick hitter.

Much of the show played out just like “Rock Out”; loud and fast. The only real change of pace came in the form of a Phil Campbell guitar solo which followed the Motorizer track, and a “slow song” in the form of “Just ‘Cos You Got the Power”, which would be at a normal tempo for other rock bands. There was also an outstanding drum solo by Dee, but he kept it in the same hard groove that it made it easy for the group to transition back into “In the Name of Tragedy”.

Motorhead may not draw into the theatrics like some other hard rock icons, an aspect which may keep them playing clubs when their rock colleagues are playing arenas, but you don’t have to know the group well to tell that they don’t care. After capping the night off with their biggest hit “Ace of Spades” and an extended “Overkill”, Lemmy put in for good measure, “We play rockin’ fuckin’ roll… and we’ll come play here anytime”. That’s all their fans want, and that’s all one could really ask for.

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